Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis suspended his 2024 presidential campaign Sunday and endorsed former President Donald Trump, bringing a whimpering end to a movement that had previously been thought to be the most viable GOP alternative to the former president.
“Following our second-place finish in Iowa, we’ve prayed and deliberated on the way forward. If there were anything I could do to produce a favorable outcome — more campaign stops, more interviews — I would do it,” said DeSantis in a video address.
“But I can’t ask our supporters to volunteer their time and donate their resources if we don’t have a clear path to victory,” added DeSantis. “Accordingly, I am today suspending my campaign.”
DeSantis explained that although he’s had “disagreements” with Trump — most notably over their handlings of the Covid-19 pandemic — the former president “is superior to the current incumbent, Joe Biden. That is clear.”
The former presidential candidate added he was endorsing Donald Trump because “we can’t go back to the old Republican guard of yesteryear, a repackaged form of warmed-over corporatism that [GOP rival] Nikki Haley represents. The days of putting Americans last, of kowtowing to large corporations, of caving to work ideology, are over.”
Senator Josh Kimbrell, a state senator from South Carolina, was the first elected official to back DeSantis in Haley’s home state and threw his support behind Trump immediately as well after the announcement from DeSantis.
In a statement to Fox News Digital, Trump said he was “very honored” to have the endorsement of DeSantis.
“I look forward to working together with him to beat Joe Biden, who is the worst and most corrupt president in the history of our country,” added the former president.
The Trump campaign insisted in a separate statement that, “It is now time for all Republicans to rally behind President Trump to defeat Crooked Joe Biden and end his disastrous presidency.”
“Nikki Haley is a candidate of the globalists and Democrats who will do everything to stop the America First movement. From higher taxes to decimating Social Security and Medicare and to open borders, she represents the views of Democrats more than the views of Republicans. It’s time to choose wisely,” continued the statement.
Nikki Haley responded with a statement saying she wishes Governor DeSantis well before addressing calls for her to drop out of the race to clear the field for Trump.
“So far, only one state has voted,” said Haley. “Half of its votes went to Donald Trump, and half did not. We’re not a country of coronations. Voters deserve a say in whether we go down the road of Trump and Biden again or we go down a new conservative road. New Hampshire voters will have their say on Tuesday. When I’m president, I will do everything in my power to show them they made the right decision.”
DeSantis claimed he would continue the race until he saw no “path forward”
Speculation DeSantis would end his campaign was fueled by his poll numbers stuck in the single digits in New Hampshire and the cancellation of his super PAC Never Back Down’s events leading up to Tuesday’s first-in-the-nation primary vote.
DeSantis maintained he would continue in the race until he didn’t see a “path forward” as recently as Friday. He also told Hugh Hewitt, a conservative radio host, that he “100% had the resources to campaign through the end of March, at which point most states will have held their GOP caucuses and primaries.
Haley and Trump were already acting as if Gov. DeSantis was out of the race before Sunday, with neither candidate frequently mentioning him on the Granite State stump recently.
Following his landslide re-election triumph in 2022, DeSantis was seen widely as the most likely Republican to move the party past Trump, even after the former president announced his candidacy for president in 2024 after the Republicans’ disappointing performance in the midterms.
But a campaign filled with glitches on Twitter in May — during which technical difficulties and audio problems prevented the online audience from hearing most of what the Florida governor had to say — foreshadowed more significant issues with his effort.
Despite DeSantis having the most financial backing between super PAC and campaign support, the governor’s camp struggled with messaging strategies and staffing. The DeSantis campaign underwent several messaging “rebrands,” including the departure of Generra Peck DeSantis’ first campaign manager, laying off large portions of their staff, and began attacking Trump late.
In the meantime, DeSantis fell in the polls as GOP voters rallied around Trump as he was bombarded with four criminal indictments throughout 2023. The governor complained last month that the former president’s legal wranglings had “distorted” the Republican primary.
In the January 15 Iowa caucus, after finishing second — almost 30 points behind Trump — DeSantis claimed he “punched” his “ticket” out of Iowa and would continue to New Hampshire and South Carolina.
The Florida governor averaging only 6.3% support in New Hampshire, his team attempted to claim he could overtake Nikki Haley in South Carolina, despite polls that showed him third behind Trump and Haley.